UPDATED: Why is Fox Business posting a press release as a bylined article from its own reporter?

Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

UPDATE: Following the publication of this post, I emailed MacDonald and Fox Business Network for comment and clarification. I have not heard back, and will post a response if there is one.

Fox Business has since revised the article (the original version in question can be found here). The revised article added several references to the AFBF press release, and other references to the AFBF as an information source (e.g. "The American Farm Bureau Federation says" ... "The Farm Bureau says" ... "The AFBF says"). The FBN article does not include an acknowledgement of these changes, or an explanation as to why they posted a press release under a Fox Business staffer's name.

UPDATE 2 (7:17pm E.T.): Sometime after my first update, FoxBusiness.com posted the following editor's note to the article:

Editor's Note: The following story replaces an earlier version that inadvertently ran on FOXBusiness.com. The reporter mistakenly sent into the system a press release issued by the American Farm Bureau Federation instead of the story she had prepared on this subject. FOX Business regrets the error.

If you go to Fox Business' website today, you'll see this top story about Thanksgiving prices -- referenced in a previous post by Eric Boehlert -- displayed on its website:

The front-page link goes to an article written "By Elizabeth MacDonald," an editor and on-air personality for Fox Business. There's just one problem: the text of MacDonald's article, virtually word-for-word, is from an American Farm Bureau Federation press release from November 12. (The title of MacDonald's article is slightly different from the AFBF - "Thanksgiving Dinner Costs Up Slightly this Year" vs. "Cost of Classic Thanksgiving Dinner Up Slightly in 2010"). The original piece is linked in AFBF's "News Release" archives.

At no point does FoxBusiness.com acknowledge that the text was written by the AFBF. In other words, readers of the Fox Business report are misled into believing that the report was written and reported by Fox Business staff about numbers from the AFBF -- and not that it was written by the AFBF itself.

The first five graphs of the American Farm Bureau Federation's "Cost of Classic Thanksgiving Dinner Up Slightly in 2010" article, posted in its newsroom on November 12:

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 12, 2010 - Menu items for a classic Thanksgiving dinner including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the basic trimmings increased about 1.3 percent in price this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

AFBF's 25th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year's feast for 10 is $43.47, a 56-cent price increase from last year's average of $42.91. This year's meal is actually $1.14 cheaper than what shoppers paid two years ago, when the total was $44.61.

"While this year's meal remains a bargain, at less than $4.35 per person, America's farmers and ranchers are perhaps most proud of the quality and variety of the food they produce for America's dinner table," said AFBF President Bob Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Texas. "Our farm and ranch families are honored knowing that again this year Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving by gathering with their families around the traditional feast. It is fitting that the food we produce from our land is a focal point of our nation's thankful celebration of its collective bounty."

The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10. There is also plenty for leftovers.

The big ticket item - a 16-pound turkey - was actually cheaper this year, at $17.66. That was roughly $1.10 per pound, actually a decrease of about 6 cents per pound, or a total of 99 cents per whole turkey, compared to 2009. While the whole bird was the biggest contributor to the final total, it was also the largest price decline compared to last year.

The first five graphs of the November 15 FoxBusiness.com article "By Elizabeth MacDonald" (click to view a screenshot of the article in full):

Menu items for a classic Thanksgiving dinner -- including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the basic trimmings -- increased in price by about 1.3% in price this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

AFBF's 25th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year's feast for 10 is $43.47, a 56-cent price increase from last year's average of $42.91. This year's meal is actually $1.14 cheaper than what shoppers paid two years ago, when the total was $44.61.

"While this year's meal remains a bargain, at less than $4.35 per person, America's farmers and ranchers are perhaps most proud of the quality and variety of the food they produce for America's dinner table," said AFBF President Bob Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Texas. "Our farm and ranch families are honored knowing that again this year Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving by gathering with their families around the traditional feast. It is fitting that the food we produce from our land is a focal point of our nation's thankful celebration of its collective bounty."

The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10. There is also plenty for leftovers.

The big ticket item -- a 16-pound turkey -- was actually cheaper this year, at $17.66. That was roughly $1.10 per pound, actually a decrease of about 6 cents per pound, or a total of 99 cents per whole turkey, compared with 2009. While the whole bird was the biggest contributor to the final total, it was also the largest price decline compared with last year.

Network/Outlet
Fox Business
Person
Elizabeth MacDonald
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.